In 2013 the Northwest Aviation Conference expanded to include an extra day for business and career sessions. Teaming with Pierce County Airport, Horizon Air, AOPA, Workforce Central, General Aviation News, Seaplane Pilots Assoc., King County Airport, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, FAA, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and a multitude of businesses, aviation colleges, technical facilities and government agencies, the Aviation Business & Career Forum was the cumulative brainstorming of over fifty-five presenters from all aspects of the industry. The results were gratifying and electrifying!
The business sessions covered topics such as marketing strategies, succession, hiring, tax incentives and included a track dedicated to topics affecting airports. The career tracks included hand's on advice on all aspects of the industry -from pilots, mechanics to airport support.
"As an aviation non-profit, we are very concerned about the future of this industry," said Jamelle Garcia, Executive Director of the Washington Aviation Association, "Our conference attendees are getting older. Hosting this added day is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to young people and also provide resources to those already in the industry who need a boost to get to the next level. There are alarming workforce shortages in aviation, unless we become proactive, the situation will become severe."
The career seminars included panels with active duty pilots including airline, coast guard, WSP, float pilots and provided information from industry leaders such as Horizon Airlines, colleges and airports. Rachel Hansen, organizer of the conference was thrilled with the response this event got in its first year. "I was excited when the idea got immediate feedback," said Hansen regarding the tracks. "We are overwhelmed at how important we have discovered people feel this is."
In all over 300 people attended the Forum in 2013. Businesses attended sessions of particular interest to them -appreciating the advice and guidance from industry leaders. Airports appreciated the opportunity to network, discuss common issues and learn how other organizations had dealt with common regulatory and facility challenges.
The most resounding success was by far the career portion of the event. Attendance was not limited to students -high school or college, rather many of the attendees seeking information, insight and resources were pilots (young and old), aviation graduates and transitioning military.
One such attendee, Steve Tank, recently sent us a letter in which he credited the Forum for providing the opportunity to meet with people who connected him to a career with Alaska Airlines. He started as a First Officer in October. "I feel the workshop is very valuable for people looking for a future career in aviation," wrote Steve, "I have told several of my pilot friends about the workshop and they were very sorry to have missed the networking opportunity. I believe there is a large void in this arena (especially in the NW) and it's something I think you can capitalize on with the impending pilot shortage looming on the horizon." Tank's closing comments were to thank the Washington Aviation Association for "helping to keep aviation vital and viable in the Pacific NW."
Walla Walla University brought a group of students to the event as well as their aviation curriculum staff. Anthony Remboldt, Director of Training, Aviation Program was very happy with the value it added to the event. "My colleagues and myself are excited again this year to participate and bring our students to the career forum in 2014." Remboldt wrote in an email, "It did so much good last year in our program and brought a lot of buzz and excitement into the often slow winter training time. We are working towards bringing more of our students this year and incorporating the event into our academic year."
In addition, Walla Walla University surveyed all the students that attended the 2013 Forum to gain their feedback on the event. The results were supportive of continuing this inaugural event. All of the ten students reported that they would not only recommend attendance of the NW Career Forum to a friend or fellow aviator but also that they would attend the career forum again.
The surveyed students pointed out certain features that each found most valuable and would like to see again in the 2014 event:
- I enjoyed the variety of topics.
- I appreciated the different career professionals and seeing what all the options out there are.
- I really liked having representatives from airlines present. It was also nice having a wide array of aviation interests represented.
- Thank you for having many different directors of the aviation industry
- I enjoyed the sessions where different areas and paths of aviation were shown and discussed. I think a lot of the time we forget that its more than just airline, corporate, or instructor.
- I enjoyed the different presenters from different sides of aviation.
- I appreciate that the forum occurred on a Friday.
Patricia Bening, Central Washington University, Department of Aviation, had this feedback to share on the CWU's participation at the Forum, "CWU thought it was excellent and our best outreach and recruiting opportunity in recent history!"
The 2014 Forum is currently in its planning stages but already we have had plenty of input and suggestions from businesses, educational facilities and individuals. Each insight is helping organizers design an improved schedule of networking information sessions that will be as valuable as possible to attendees and participants.
The panel format will be kept for the career sessions but the moderators will be provided strict guidelines on monitoring the input from panelists to be mindful of subject objectives and timing. Focus will be on Q & A’s to engage the audience – especially after lunch!
The forum committee will be reaching out to arrange a dynamic speaker to manage the general sessions. These key sessions are important as they bring all tracks together at one time. After the first keynote session each group goes to a series of specialized seminars in their field of interest – business management; airport operation; or pilot, airport, or maintenance careers.
They return together for the noon session -then break out again in the afternoon. The committee will be working with the industry and event supporters to select a motivational speaker that can engage, energize and ultimately inspire the attendees!
The forum committee is also working with high schools and colleges to raise awareness of the events and the opportunities it holds for those students who are considering a career in aviation or a related field. Part of this outreach will be to encourage facilities to consider the educational value of attending this forum. The organizers are working with aviation businesses and organizations to garner sponsorships for students to attend as well as grants to cover transportation costs. If interested, schools should con-tact Rachel Hansen at (360) 427-5599 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In all 55 speakers committed to volunteer their time to present at the 2013 Forum. Already many of these have offered their support again for the 2014 event -thank you to each one of you for your past and future support! Many of the career presenters have already made great suggestions for topics at the upcoming event. From resume writing to coast guard training or airport management-and everything in between, it appears the topics are limitless. Last year's most popular included panels from actively employed aviators in all walks of the industry. Attendees were able to ask questions and understand expectations. In 2014 we will take this one step further by asking our presenters to help us visualize with "a day in the life of-" followed by questions.
The 2014 Aviation Business and Career Forum will be hosted Friday, February 21 at the Showplex, Western Washington Fairgrounds. Cost is $35 per person and includes lunch Friday (only) and admission to the conference Saturday and Sunday. Parking is free in the Blue Lot on Meridian. Doors open at 8:00 am. This event is held before the annual Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show. Visit the location information on page 14 for driving directions.
Interested in participating? isit the website, washington-aviation.org/forum.html, for details, schedule and registration or call Rachel toll free at 866-922-7469.
Published December 5, 2013
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Last update on December 5, 2013